Birth of a Salesman (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday April 18, 2007 12:32PM; Updated: Wednesday April 18, 2007 12:34PM
He blogs for XBox; he's done a photo shoot for Nike; he's got endorsement deals with Hummer and with EAS, a supplement manufacturer. The list is getting so long that he almost forgot to mention his new deal with Subway. So does this mean he'll be hanging out with that Jared guy? "Hopefully in the future," he laughed. "I'm not that big-time."
Not yet, anyway. But by the looks of things he could be there pretty soon. Quinn hasn't even played a single down in the NFL and already he's got more endorsement deals than most pro players get in a lifetime. He's associated with so many products that he's starting to look more like Peyton Manning than Eli Manning does.
When talking with a bunch of reporters right before lunch, Quinn was completely at ease, leaning back in his chair and looking so comfortable that he may as well have been in his bedroom shooting the breeze with his buddies. Despite having barely eaten all day, despite having given something like a dozen interviews already that morning, and despite knowing that lunch was waiting for him as soon as he finished the interviews, he was completely at ease and completely focused. He answered every question thoughtfully and sincerely as if he hadn't already heard and answered it several times that same day.
He handles the media so well that you hardly even notice you're being handled. Interview after interview, every question designed to get him to say something negative or controversial was sidestepped with the kind of ease that his new team can only hope he uses to avoid linebackers.
One example: he acknowledged that there's some truth to the reports that he'd love to play for his hometown Browns, but also made sure to say that, "I'd love to play for a lot of teams in the NFL. I think the biggest thing for me is playing in the NFL."
It doesn't matter that the draft is still more than a week away -- Quinn is already a pro. From his Sprint handlers to the Newsday kids, everybody he spoke to all day got his full attention and enthusiasm as if he wanted nothing more than to talk to them. More than anything else, it's that air of accessibility that Quinn gives off -- the sense that he's just a regular guy who happens to be good at throwing a football -- that makes him so marketable. When I asked him where he's partying after the draft, he told me to leave him my cell number so he could call me from the party to let me know. At lunch, he teased his agent for having gone to Maryland. And he seemed just as excited to meet those fifth-graders as they were to meet him.
To Quinn, the media spotlight must seem no scarier than a candle. With a brother-in-law (A.J. Hawk) who plays for Green Bay and a cousin (Zachery Ty Bryan) who co-starred as the eldest son on sitcom Home Improvement, Quinn might not even be the most famous person in his family. It's enough to make you wonder if he might be related to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. (He assures me it's not true.)
"I'm not looking for fame, I'm looking for success in the NFL. I guess I've got some shoes to fill in that sense of it -- following A.J., following Zach -- but really, my thing is just playing the game I love to play, and it's just fortunate that I'm able to do that now and hopefully go somewhere high in the draft."
The fame is coming, though. Though Quinn says he's already turned down some endorsement offers, there's no doubt you'll be seeing him in TV commercials and on billboards before you can say "overexposure."
Now all he has to do is play like a superstar in the NFL.
Adam Hofstetter's column appears every week on SI.com. Please send all offers for endorsement deals to firstname.lastname@example.org.